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5 Unique and Surreal Places in Africa

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Eye of Africa from space

Yes, you have heard how beautiful and diverse Africa is. From dense jungles, to vast desserts, to breathtaking beaches, Africa has it all. But do you know about these 5 unique locations in Africa that are so surreal that you would think that they are out of this world? 

 Let’s start with two beautiful lakes that are located on the opposite sides of the continent but have one thing in common

1. Lake Retba in Senegal and Lake Natron in Tanzania 

Lake Retba is located less than an hour away from Senegal’s capital city Dakar. The lake is impressive not for its size but for its unique eye-catching pink color that makes the lake look photoshopped. Lake Retba, also called Lac Rose by locals, gets its vivid pink color from the Dunaliella salina bacteria, which is attracted by the lake’s salt content. The lake’s salt content is comparable to that of the Dead Sea. 

The color of Lake Retba is especially visible during the dry season, which lasts from November to June. Due to the very high salt content of the lake, not many living organisms can survive there, which means the lake is mostly used for salt production and tourism. The lake is only about 1.1 square miles and no major town has been developed along its shores. 

On the Eastern side of the African continent, in the Republic of Tanzania, there is another colorful lake. Lake Natron is another salty lake that is filled with minerals. The lake is very shallow and the water’s temperature can reach as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The crust created by the alkali salt gives Lake Natron a red or pink hue. Although the lake is not friendly to most animals, it is the main breeding ground for lesser flamingos. 

Lake Natron is a poisonous lake to most animals due to the high salt and mineral levels. Animals that die in the lake are perfectly preserved through calcification due to the extreme sodium bicarbonate content of the water.  

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2. Underwater Waterfall in Mauritius 

unique locations in africa, under water waterfall, Mauritius,

Waterfalls are pretty common around the world, but have you ever heard of an underwater waterfall? That is a phenomenon that can be seen off the coast of Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean. 

Mauritius sits on an ocean shelf that rises up from the ocean floor. Very close to the island’s shore, there is a gradual slope that leads out to a sudden 2.5 mile drop to the ocean floor. That drop is what forms the illusion of a waterfall. Sand and silt deposits slide down the slope, creating a waterfall like look under the ocean.

This astounding site, unfortunately, cannot be seen from the ocean shores. One has to be flying above the water looking down, which is an activity you can partake in through helicopter tours. 

3. Stone Forest in Madagascar

unique locations in africa,. stone forest

The very interesting island of Madagascar has the world’s largest stone forest that you would not believe is real. These tall, thin, needle-like rock formations can be found throughout the island and are called tsingy. 

The Tsingy de Bemarah Strict Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has the largest collection of these rocks. The reserve stretches 375,600 acres. NASA notes that the formation of these rocks began about 200 million years ago. There is a portion of the stone forest that’s open and accessible to tourists while the majority of the area is off limits. But if you’re trekking this incredible area, make sure to watch your every step. 

4. Deadvlei in Namibia

Deadvlei in Namibia

Located in between Namibia’s towering red dunes is a land that’s haunting and spectacular. It is called Deadvlei. This white clay pan was formed more than a thousand years ago when a river flooded after heavy rainfall. But the look of the pan that can be seen now is due to drought that struck the area. 

The trees that were able to grow while the area had water stopped growing. But they did not disappear. The drought was so harsh that the trees dried out and they transformed into blackened bones. Those trees are believed to be around 900 year old, trapped in a white clay marsh. 

Surrounded by red dunes and blue skies, the Deadvlei now photographs like a surreal landscape made up of one’s imagination. 

5. The eye of africa in Mauritania 

unique locations in africa, eye of africa

The Richat dome, also known as the eye of Africa, is a circular structure located in the Mauritania part of the Sahara Desert. The giant eye is so massive that it can be seen from space. In fact, early space missions used it to navigate. 

The sedimentary rocks of the structure come from different eras. The circle is 40km or 24.8 miles in diameter and was believed to have been a result of an asteroid impact when it was first discovered. But scientists nowadays argue that the structure could not be due to an impact because of the symmetrical and deeply eroded geological dome. 

Another more fun theory suggests that the Richat structure could actually be the lost city of Atlantis described by Plato.  Atlantis is described to be a mysterious island that’s circular in shape, divided into circles of land and water. 

Whatever the cause of the eye of Africa might it, it sure is a mind-blowing site.